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Funeral set for Wednesday for Utah soccer referee

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Funeral services have been set for Wednesday in Salt Lake City for a Utah soccer referee who was punched by a player and later died after a weeklong coma.

A public wake for Ricardo Portillo, 46, will run from 1-7 p.m, followed by a religious service. Both will be at the Rail Event Center Salt Lake City, and are open to the public, the family said Tuesday.

Portillo died Saturday — a week after police say a 17-year-old player struck him in the head during a recreational league soccer game after the referee called a penalty against him.

A Utah prosecutor said he plans to decide soon what charges to file against the teenager, who is being held in juvenile detention center.

Portillo is survived by three daughters and four grandchildren. After the funeral, his remains will be returned to his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. He moved to Utah from there 17 years ago.

The Portillo family is asking that people wear white shirts to the services, said family friend Tony Yapias. In their family tradition, wearing white to a funeral signifies filling the deceased with light.

At a Sunday candlelight vigil, family and friends wore white shirts and held signs that read, “In loving memory of Ricky.” They stood around a table that had a picture of Portillo raising his arms in victory, with flowers and candles surrounding it.

Family members said Portillo loved soccer, and had been working as a referee in different leagues for eight years. His oldest daughter, Johana Portillo, said he had been attacked before by players, even having his legs and ribs broken. Though his daughters begged him to quit, he said he couldn’t give up his passion.

The league where this incident occurred— La Liga Continental de Futbol — is an unaffiliated soccer league created in 2009. The league plays games for children ages 4-17 each Saturday at a junior school field in a Salt Lake City suburb.

The league president, Mario Vasquez, said Tuesday that they will hold an adult, co-ed soccer tournament in Portillo’s honor May 25-26. The funds will be given to his family.


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